Ram Kumar was born in Simla in 1924. Completing his Masters in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University, he began his art education in the evening classes of Sarada Ukil School of Art, New Delhi, where he learnt the ‘Western style’ of painting under the tutelage of Sailoz Mookherjea. Around 1948, he joined the Shilpi Chakra group of artists in Delhi. In 1950, he left for Paris with fellow artists S. H. Raza and Akbar Padamsee, where he became part of the communist circle of intelligentsia, regularly attending meetings and demonstrations. On his return to India, he became friends with art critic Richard Bartholomew, and began regularly exhibiting with the Delhi Shilpa Chakra, becoming by the mid-Fifties one of India’s emerging young painters. He received the national award in 1956 and 1958, and was awarded the Padma Shri by the Indian government in 1971. In addition to being a visual artist of repute, Ram Kumar is also a prolific Hindi writer.
Like several first generation post-colonial Indian artists, such as F. N. Souza, S. H. Raza and Paritosh Sen, Ram Kumar combined a desire for global success with the need to belong emphatically to his homeland. His landscapes are devoid of the usual constituents of reality. The land, trees, sky, and water are not portrayed in their natural forms, and thus are strongly suggestive of abstract landscapes. At the same time, the intensity of colour in his delightful greens and browns, mustard yellows and inviting blues of the sky and water, do not let one escape from reality either.